The Rising Apple staff will be starting a weekly feature where one player will be chosen and highlighted on our site for their outstanding or unique performance for the last week. If you have a nomination on who should be crowned as the Rising Apple Player of the Week, please let us know! You can leave us a comment, tweet us (@RisingAppleBlog) or make a comment on Facebook.
If you couldn’t tell by the title, the inaugural Rising Apple Player of the Week honors go to…drum roll please….Ike Davis. There were a few standout performances that earned worthy consideration (R.A. Dickey‘s one-hitter, Kirk Nieuwenhuis‘ two-homer game), but it was Davis’ consistent improvement throughout the week that earned him this honor. We don’t really need to re-hash every little bit of Ike’s struggles this year, but because of his ineffectiveness at the plate, Terry Collins had been using him as a platoon player when a tough southpaw was on the mound.
In match-ups against the Cardinals and Nationals, the Mets were facing predominantly right-handed starting pitching, so Davis was penciled into the lineup every night, but nothing much was happening, as he saw his average dip to as low as .158 as he went hitless in three at-bats Friday night at Yankee stadium. However, little did we know, he was slowly starting to get back on track Saturday night with Phil Hughes on the mound, going 1-for-2 with two walks. Despite this positive showing, Ike still looked extremely off balanced at the plate in particular at-bats, not giving anyone hope that he was on his way out of this slump.
On Sunday afternoon, Davis sat in favor of Vinny Rottino since Andy Pettitte was taking the mound, but he came up big in a 9th inning pinch hit appearance and lined a double to right-center field to score Lucas Duda, which tied the game before Russell Martin won it for the Yanks in the bottom of the inning. After an off-day on Monday, Davis enjoyed what is most likely his most productive three-game stretch of the season, collecting six hits and six RBI in the three-game sweep of the Rays.
In the first game of the series, he hit a long three run homer to right field to put the game out of reach. That was not only his first round tripper since May 11th, but his first multi-hit game since May 9th, both previously coming against the Marlins in Miami. Unlike most of the season, Ike was able to follow up that solid performance with two more multi-hit games, joining the rest of the lineup in the offensive explosion that occurred at Tropicana Field.
There were two different instances that I feel put Ike back on track while down in Tampa. One was the bunt single he laid down in his first at-bat against Rays starter Alex Cobb. Other than chasing at bad pitches and looking very uncomfortable at the plate this year, Davis has not exactly had much luck on his side. So, he decided to try and lay down a bunt to beat the extreme shift, and it worked. It was a pretty good bunt too…I mean, when was the last time he did that in a game? He also was able to get some luck by bouncing a grounder off the carpet and over Carlos Pena‘s head for an RBI single later in the series. Sometimes you just need a little bit of luck to get on a roll.
The biggest confidence booster for Davis during this week had to be his performance against David Price. One of the best southpaws in the game, he was able to work out a walk and line a double off him. He showed himself that he can hit both lefties and righties with authority, and if that and everything else that happened in Tampa doesn’t get him on a roll, then I don’t know what will. For now, congratulations to Ike Davis for taking home the first Rising Apple Player of the Week award!